What holiday worries dentists everywhere? Halloween. Although it's a time for shrieks, costumes and lots of candy, this haunted holiday can wreak havoc on your kids' (and your) teeth. But it doesn't have to. Avoid a filling appointment by following these Halloween tips for better oral care.
Some candies and sweets are worse than others with respect to the health of your teeth. If you're family is going to indulge this Halloween, take out the treats your kids bring back that are considered the worst for your mouth. Those that can do the most damage tend to linger – hard candies and sticky treats such as caramels and taffy.
When it comes to eating that Halloween candy, timing is important. Don't nurse it throughout the day or let your child eat it subconsciously while watching a movie. Instead, snack during specific times: Right after a meal is usually best, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), as the saliva you produce in your mouth during your meal will help to rinse away the sugar and candy bits – reducing the risk of cavities.
Another way to set limits is to have your child pick out no more than a few favorites from his or her trick or treat bag. Let them have a sweet after dinner for a few days after Halloween, then donate the rest. Plenty of dentists across the U.S. participate in the Halloween Buyback program, during which time candy is collected and sent to people serving in the military. When you donate your Halloween candy, your dentist might give you sugar-free products or a new toothbrush in exchange.
Pause for Brushing
Although hurrying to the bathroom to brush your teeth after popping a few treats might sound like a good idea, it's actually better to wait a bit. Brushing right after eating acidic foods can actually damage your teeth. Why? Some foods soften your enamel, so if you brush right after eating them, you risk hurting your enamel further while it's still sensitive.
For this reason, drink water to rinse away the sugar after eating, but wait at least 30 minutes before you brush. When it is time to brush your teeth, use a fluoride toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Advanced Whitening to further protect your mouth from cavities and decay.
Be Cautious about Costuming
It's not just candy that can damage your teeth at Halloween. You also want to be particularly careful with what you put on your teeth in terms of makeup. Use only cosmetics designed for use in your mouth when decorating your or your child's teeth. Although you might come across video tutorials telling you to use eyeliner to fake a missing tooth, it's best to look for tooth blackout wax instead. When you use this wax, be careful about eating or drinking. Wait until you've washed the wax off before you consume anything, in order to avoid accidentally swallowing it. Usually, the wax comes off easily with just water.
Think twice before using any goofy fake teeth or prosthetics this Halloween, too. They won't cause cavities, but there have been cases of these products containing high levels of lead. In fact, in 2008, a brand of fake teeth was recalled for containing this hazardous element, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Talk to your dentist if you need any Halloween tips concerning prosthetics or using any kind of cosmetics on your teeth.
Cavities don't have to be the scariest thing about Halloween. Limit your candy and sweets and take care to protect your teeth, and you'll find that the ghosts, goblins and other holiday frights are much scarier than onset tooth decay.